Drillstring ‘Ethernet’ showcased at SPE

Promising new technology from a US DOE funded project is set to provide megabit bandwidth for MWD—if anyone can afford it!

Measurement while drilling is currently hampered by the technology used to transmit information from the drill bit to the surface. The traditional technique of pressure pulsing the mud column is limited to a few bits per second—or maybe a few seconds per bit! All that may change if new technology sponsored by the US Deptartment of Energy and co-developed by Novatek and Grant Prideco wins commercial acceptance. Using a special pipe string with an embedded electrical connection, IntelliPipe offers around a megabit of bandwidth while drilling. The signal passes from one string to another via an induction loop embedded in the joint.


At the SPE ACTE in San Antonio earlier this month, Mike Smith, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy proudly presented the new technology to the world. Smith recalled an earlier DOE funded development 25 years ago, when one of the agency’s partnerships with industry had produced a major breakthrough in drilling technology—mud pulse telemetry! A development qualified by Smith as “one of the crowning achievements of the joint government—industry petroleum research program.”

Major advance

Smith believes that IntelliPipe will be the next major advancement in downhole telemetry, allowing for data rates that support real time decisions to be made at the surface and executed at the drill bit. The ‘dumb’ drill pipe is now the backbone of a downhole digital network. Oil IT Journal quizzed some industry folks at the SPE. There is genuine interest in the new technology, but concern over price. Like a Rolls-Royce—if you need to ask how much IntelliPipe costs, you probably can’t afford it!

Click here to comment on this article

Click here to view this article in context on a desktop

© Oil IT Journal - all rights reserved.